"I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."
Like transients under cardboard,
like meat upon a spit,
we are spinning
in degrees of winter and fire,
fever and wound.
We have seen neighbors burn
like refuse, dry grass, unleafed books.
Mistakes are penalized
by street search, taser strike, body bag,
the vainest of Sunday prayers.
Marching for our martyrs
we have grown restive, cynical,
resistant in all matters.
We have come to register the common distress
that overrides Gospel verse, voter registration.
Treated as migratory, defective, marginal,
we are learning to burn fuses in pipes,
learning that iPhone photos and firepower
In the poison that is history revealed
there are two stories:
one is clean streets and service rewarded;
the other is theater, theft and dangerous language.
In the turn from wide to narrow streets
seams in the street shudder my tires,
loosed leaves flutter through the fog.
Police on patrol secure the corner
the brass-columned church commands.
Blocked by brush-wide blurs of contrails,
the sun settles behind the storm.
There’s a death in my house,
a dearth of charity,
a chastened child unwrapping his remorse.
Witnesses see a copy of Lee’s Lieutenants
and nine shell casings littering the floor.
I take a bitter way through the morning news,
the rain-burst from a sudden sky.
A mourning coat drapes my shoulders.
Excused with a lie,
the revolution’s flag snarls in each season,
locked to its lanyard.
Five fires blaze beneath
a summer-wide wash of heat lightning.
Rumbling through a drought, a flood
funeral caissons separate to last stations.
I stand outside a prayer circle,
trrying to recall what forgiveness verses I know.
Never equal, rooted in disregard
I spent a childhood on the charity rolls,
languish now under levies of job loss or low money.
Curbside beers, meals of tramp stew,
collapse a minister’s graven idol imagery,
diminish metaphor and the morning.
Rancor falls, random as a star.
I have no sense of the way home.
R.T. Castleberry's work has appeared in Comstock Review, Green Mountains Review, Santa Fe Literary Review, The Alembic, Pacific Review and RiverSedge, among other journals. He is a co-founder of the Flying Dutchman Writers Troupe and co-editor/publisher of the poetry magazine Curbside Review. His work has been featured in the anthologies Travois-An Anthology of Texas Poetry, TimeSlice and The Weight of Addition. His chapbook, Arriving At The Riverside, was published by Finishing Line Press in January, 2010. An e-book, Dialogue and Appetite, was published by Right Hand Pointing in May, 2011.